Category Archives for Cooking

How Do You Get Into Artichokes and Cook Them?

How Do You Get Into Artichokes and Cook Them?

Artichokes are a strange looking food type, and most people look at these with complete confusion and frustration on their faces because firstly they have no idea on how to get into them and secondly once they fathom this out they just don’t know how to cook them.

Well, ladies and gentlemen we are about to help you with a short guide on how you can make a soup or salad from one of these green and pleasant vegetables. The one thing you need to keep in mind is that artichokes don’t come in one size, they vary in terms of growth so the larger artichokes will take longer to cook then the smaller ones, but there shouldn’t be an alarming surprised in that fact.

How to Prepare Artichokes

How to Prepare Artichokes

Firstly, these are often cooked best when you steam or boil them, with steam being my preferred method as it locks in all the good nutrients that boiling can take out.  What you will find is that the steaming process also locks in a lot of the flavours so it’s by far the best route to take even if you don’t have a steamer unit available in your kitchen.

Now we are ready to begin the preparation so the very first step is to take off that long stalk and steam as it isn’t needed.  Now we will look at the main part of this vegetable where the leaves are growing at the top. You will notice that these are shaped like horns at the end, and the general rule of thumb is that the fresher the artichoke is the more closed up it will be. If the petals are opening up then they won’t be as fresh.

Next, you can take a pair of kitchen scissors and chop off the thorny ends of the leaves so you are left with flat edges leaves. With that and the stem gone the only other thing you need to do is chop the top off the artichoke and you should be ready to start steaming.

How to Steam Artichokes

How to Steam Artichokes

Rinse off any excess dirt or grit that may have been caught up in the leaves before you steam by simply washing it under some cold water in your sink.

Once done grab yourself a large pot and put about an inch of water in it, with the additional seasonings such as lemon, bay leafs, or most peoples favourite; garlic. You will now need to add a steaming basket to your large pot in order to rest the artichokes on so that you can successfully steam them. Bring the water to a boil and then cover the pot with a lid and allow them to simmer for about 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the artichokes and just how many that you have put into the pot.

By the end of the cooking time take the pot off the boil and allow the artichokes to cool on the side for 5 minutes.

How to Eat an Artichoke

How to Eat an Artichoke

Usually a dip comes in quite handy when eating these and I tend to use mayonnaise personally but you can use any kind of dip you like, whether its mustard, butter, or a vinegar based dip, they all work a treat and tingle your taste buds.

After the artichokes have cooked the leaves should have lifted a little, so they won’t be as tightly closed as before you steamed them. To eat an artichoke you just need to peel off a petal one at a time and then dip them in your desired sauce.

Now this next part is important as you don’t actually eat the whole petal. What you need to do is place the petal dip side down into your mouth and use your teeth (as a scraper) to remove the edible part of the petal. You will feel this part come away as you follow that process and the sauce will just add a wonderful taste to the artichoke.

Once you have eaten all of the petals then you don’t need to stop there as you can also eat that middle part, and the heart of the artichoke (but don’t eat the fuzzy part). Grab yourself a knife as you will need these to cut out and scrape those final parts of the artichoke out.

How to Eat an Artichoke

That is all there is to it! It’s a quick and easy way to prepare, cook and then eat an artichoke and the more that you get used to this wonderful green vegetable the easier it will become to do all of those 3 steps without having to think about what to do next. If you haven’t had the chance to eat one of these yet, then what are you waiting for?

Cooking a Turkey: The Complete Guide to a Christmas Favourite

Cooking a Turkey: The Complete Guide to a Christmas Favourite

Turkey for many people gets eaten once or twice a year and is part of a traditional Christmas dinner but also the main base on a table for Thanksgiving in the U.S.A at the end of this month.  The main difference between a turkey and a chicken is that Turkeys are much larger and are much richer in taste than a chicken.

Therefore the cooking and preparation process required to take the turkey from raw to fully cooked can take a long time, in some cases a good 5-6 hours if your Turkey weighs in at 5-6 KG. So getting everything in place is the key to success if you are holding a thanksgiving party or playing host on Christmas Day.

Firstly let’s point out that there is only really one way to cook a Turkey and that is to roast it in the oven, as this gets the best results and is the quickest way to get it done. Even though they can take a good 6 hours dependant on weight a lot of people will cook them slowly overnight.

Anyway, let’s get started with the guide for you to follow:

What to do Days Before Cooking

What to do Days Before Cooking

Firstly the whole preparation process for a turkey can start days before you even begin to cook it, this process usually involves letting the turkey sit in a brine solution for a few days prior to being cut up. The salt water solutions will help moisten the turkey and bring terrific results your way at the end of the cooking process.

Beginning to Cook The Turkey

Beginning to Cook The Turkey

Turn up the oven to around 450F and position the rack towards the lower third of the oven. You don’t want it sitting at the top or in the middle at this stage. If you haven’t brined the turkey because you didn’t have time then you will need to season it now before you put it in the oven.

Grab some extra virgin olive oil and your choice of seasoning, this can be just salt and pepper or you can experiment with garlic cloves and lemons.  The oil will simply add a crispy golden-brown skin texture to the turkey for those that love to chow down on the skin.

The next stage is important and something that people forget to do. Don’t just place the turkey into a roasting dish, instead add around two cup fulls of water to the pan and then place the turkey into this water or broth solution (breast side up for the best results, adding some foil towards the end to protect the meat). Once you have done this add the tray to the oven rack and then knock the heat down from 450F to 350F.

How Long Should I Cook The Turkey

How Long Should I Cook The Turkey

This is the part most people tend to get stumped on, and just like the steak article that we wrote-up for you a few days ago its all about key timings. Now, the problem is that every turkey comes in at different weights so people get confused on how long to cook it for, so here is the simple thing to take note:

Each 0.5KGs of Turkey (That’s 1 pound), should be cooked for 13 minutes.

So a turkey that weighs 6.3 KG (14 pounds) should be cooked for around 2 hours and 40 minutes. However, different elements can also change this cooking time such as whether it has been brined or if it has been stuffed or left empty. Just keep checking the turkey every so often and don’t forget to baste the turkey around every 45 minutes.

Ok, How Do I Baste a Turkey?

Ok, How Do I Baste a Turkey?

It’s really easy to do! Just take the roasting tray out of the oven and then tilt the track and use a spoon to pour the liquid from the base of the tray onto the top of the turkey. It may not seem like much of a big deal but believe us that basting plays a major part because it slows down the cooking time of the turkey because the juices you are pouring over the top of it essentially cools the surface of the turkey down which as a result will keep the breast cooking at the same temperature and rate as the rest of the turkey.

Once the turkey has finished cooking leave it on the side for a good 30 minutes (with some foil covered over the top of it) to let all those juices absorb to make the meat tender and moist.  After 30 minutes has passed you can then begin to separate the turkey by carving off the thighs, wings, legs and breast for serving. The additional meat can also be cut from the bones of the turkey and used as leftovers which can be kept for a few days in the fridge or frozen for around 2 – 3 months.

5 Great Ways That You Can Eat Acorn Squash This Fall

5 Great Ways That You Can Eat Acorn Squash This Fall

It’s the time of the year for acorn squash and this particular food type is everyone’s favourite in the fall. If you haven’t tried this type of autumn squash before than you really need to grab yourself some because we are going to show you a number of ways you can eat them. The squash is sweet but also offers a nutty taste to it and can be thrown into a range of dishes because of its versatility.

Whether you are a pasta lover or a pie lover the acorn squash shouldn’t be overlooked this fall, as it will provide you and your family with a heart-warming dinner time dish that you will want to eat over and over again as the cold weather sets in.

Acorn Squash Pie Dishes

Acorn Squash Pie Dishes

Let’s start with looking at how acorn squash can be used as part of a pie dish. One of the things you will realise when reading todays article is that acorn squash can be adapted into both main courses as well as desserts.

Firstly we want to get the oven preheated like always, so knock the temperature up to around 425F, and then while that begins to increase to its optimal heat setting we want to prepare the baking tray, by just adding some butter to it so that the squash doesn’t stick to the bottom of the tray making it hard to remove.

Slice the acorns in halve and then line them up on the baking tray or baking sheet and cook them in the oven for around 20 minutes until they soften up, you can then remove them from the oven and scrape out the squash with a spoon.

Now you can begin to bring in other ingredients and acorn squash goes very well with honey so mix together salt, cinnamon, ginger, half a cup of milk, some honey and 4 large eggs. Its best to use a blender at this stage to make sure that you are thoroughly combining all the ingredients together as this will make the inner filling of the pie.

The next step is to create your pie casing; you can either do this yourself or simply buy a premade one. Scoop into the middle of the pie your filling and then take the pies back to the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, the first 10 minutes you want to set the oven to 350F and then for the final 30 back to 425F.

Acorn Squash Pasta Dishes

Acorn Squash Pasta Dishes

Pasta is as versatile as food comes as you can add anything to pasta including acorn squash. You can cook the squash in the same way as the recipe above, but instead of mashing together the squash you want to keep them in large chunks so they combine well with the pasta.

Add some pasta to a large saucepan of boiling water and then cook for 20 minutes until they are soft but firm still. If you are feeling creative you can also sauté some pancetta so the meat is crispy and this can be added to the dish to create extra colours and textures.

Once the pasta has cooked and the pancetta has finished off combine the acorn squash, pancetta and pasta into a large bowl. Now we can add some freshly chopped rosemary and parmesan cheese to finish the dish off.

Acorn Squash Soup Dishes

Acorn Squash Soup Dishes

What do you get when you combine acorn squash and soup? The best autumn dish you can think of that’s what! To make this dish it really is simple and we can tell you how in just two sentences. Firstly cook the acorn squash in the same way as the pie dish at the top and then make sure the squash is mashed up.  You want to achieve a puree here, that’s what you are looking for.

You can then add about half a pound of kale, and 4 strips of bacon as ingredients to the dish which will make for a tasty soup. All you need to do is cook the bacon in a saucepan for 5 minutes until it is crisp, and then cook the kale for 3 minutes in  a saucepan until it is soft. Add the squash puree to the bacon and kale, then tip in 3 cups of water and bring everything to the boil.

To add extra taste once the soup is cooked you can sprinkle some salt and pepper into the soup, and if you are cooking this for guests it’s advisable to leave some bacon left over so you can garnish the top of each soup bowl with it. This will just add a touch of class when it comes to presentation and something that your guests will enjoy to see.

Any leftover squash puree can also be added to containers and frozen for another time you want to make soup.

The Perfect Guide to Cooking The Tastiest Steak

The Perfect Guide to Cooking The Tastiest Steak

More often than not we class steak as a luxury in life, especially the good quality stuff that tends to come at a price. That price though is well worth it if you can cook the steak to perfection which unfortunately a lot of people tend to struggle with.

Now, there are a number of different ways that you can go about cooking steak but the one way that comes out on top is to use a griddle pan. Again, the way you go about cooking steak really depends on whether you like rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well-done, or well-done. The heat settings and time that you need to cook the steak all vary with each of these methods.

If you are cooking for a dinner party who all want a different cooked steak then it can be confusing to know when to take it off the heat and serve it up. Hopefully over the next few minutes you are going to learn a little bit more about cooking steak, so take a seat and listen to what we have to say.

Note: There is literally a few minutes in-between a rare and well-done steak so timing really is of the essence when it comes to cooking the perfect steak.

Preparing Your Steak

Preparing Your Steak

Firstly you will need to take out your griddle pan and get your oil at the ready; also you may want to season your steak if you prefer to add some subtle flavours to the mix. The real key to steak is that everything happens quickly so preparation is must.

Get your pepper and sea salt ready by the side of you, your honey and mustard dressing, or your spice mix if you want to give the steak a nice kick.

The idea here is to add the oil to the griddle first and soon as the oil begins to separate its hot enough to add the steak to. Don’t be caught out by adding the steak to early as you could end up with a greasy steak that doesn’t taste as good as it should.

Once the oil is hot and ready, you can then press your steak into the seasonings that you have chosen and then add them right onto the griddle pan.

How Do I Know It’s Cooked?

How Do I Know It’s Cooked?

Blue steak is the first type of steak which hardly see’s the heat at all. The steak should be dark and look almost blue or purple to you, and will be warm (not piping hot).

Rare is the next steak type and is popular on the European continent. This steak will be dark red and the juices will have been created from its short time on the griddle.

Medium-Rare will look a lot more pink when you cut the steak open.

Medium is probably the most popular type of steak and this will be a pale pink colour but wont have many juices flowing from the outside. Instead the steak will be firm and the juices will have been soaked up by the heat.

Well-Done types of steak are generally for those who don’t want to risk a bad stomach off the other types of steak. You shouldn’t see a whole lot of pink in this steak, instead it will mostly brown in colour but shouldn’t be overcooked to the stage where it has completely dried out.

What About Timings?

What About Timings?

So now you know what steak types should look like we will tell you the times that you need to keep them on the griddle. This is a rough guide as it depends on the type of steak and the thickness of the steak so we are going to provide you with a general average here.

For Blue steaks you are looking to cook a Sirloin steak for 60 seconds on either side.

For Rare steaks you are looking for increase that time to around 90 seconds on either side.

Medium Rare you just need to add another 30 seconds to each side, making this type of steak a 2 minute job on either side.

For Medium steaks you can add around 10-15 seconds on each side.

Finally, the well-done steaks can take almost double the time a medium steak can take. You should be looking in between the 4 and 5 minute mark on either side of the steak to classify it as a well-done type.

Final Tips

Final Tips

Like any meat that has just been cooked you should always leave it to rest properly on the side for about 5 – 10 minutes. What this does to any meat is allows the juices to be absorbed back into the meat and what you will then get is a moist and tender piece of steak that is still warm/hot (depending on the type of steak).

The Best Way to Cook a Whole Chicken Perfectly

The Best Way to Cook a Whole Chicken Perfectly

Chicken is a meat that you can use with pretty much any type of main dish because it is quite versatile in nature. Whether it’s part of a nice warm curry, a salad or chucked into a cold pasta based dish, chicken really is one of the tastiest meats that you can have. Aside from it being fairly easy to cook and being rather tasty, it also has many health benefits and if you eat it as part of a balanced diet you gain a lot from its high source of protein.

Today though we aren’t looking at the health benefits of chicken, instead we want to look at how you can roast the perfect chicken so that all your dinner guests will be asking you how you cooked such an amazing chicken. Therefore we are going to take your through the cooking methods for a roast chicken allowing you to follow our easy step-by-step instructions, and believe it or not it’s a lot more easier than you are probably thinking right now.

So before you start any cooking, read on…

How to Roast a Chicken

How to Roast a Chicken

One of the best ways to cook chicken is to roast it as you get so many different flavours from the white meat when cooked in this manner. Roasting a chicken all starts with the preparation, and once cooked thoroughly you can add this to a Sunday dinner, pasta dishes, salads and even soups.

To begin with you need to preheat your oven to a high heat setting, usually 450F is the best setting to use and then you want to use the middle of oven to cook the chicken.

Get everything ready on the kitchen side that you are going to need:

  • A Roasting Pan
  • The Chicken
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A Lemon and a Garlic Clove
  • A Temperature Reader (to get an idea on when the chicken is cooked)

If you haven’t removed the giblets yet then this is the first thing you are going to want to do. Giblets shouldn’t just be thrown away though as they can help make gravy should you need it for your intended dish.

Preparing The Chicken to Cook

Preparing The Chicken to Cook

Rub the outside of the chicken with some extra virgin olive oil, making sure that the drumsticks and breast are well coated in oil. What this will result in is crispy golden skin. Now you have the chicken covered season with the salt and pepper and chopped garlic (you can put the garlic cloves inside the chicken). Cut the lemon into segments and then place these inside the chicken as well, this will just add a nice subtle flavour. At the end of the cooking process you can also use the garlic to add to boiled potatoes or you can roast some potatoes with the garlic cloves to give them a great taste.

Depending on the size of the chicken will vary its cooking time, but you should be able to find instructions on the packaging. Lower the temperature to about 400F now, and then put the chicken into the roasting dish and slide that onto the middle rack of the oven.

To give you an idea of when it is cooked you can use a thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken, and if the temperature reads 165F and the juices are running clear then you are finished.

Once The Chicken Has Cooked

Once The Chicken Has Cooked

When cooked always make sure that you leave the chicken on the side for a good 15 minutes, this will allow the chicken to rest. This is the ideal time to prepare the rest of your dish (whether you need to make gravy, cook vegetables or boil up some pasta).

After the 15 minutes has passed you can now start to carve up the chicken, don’t just slam your knife in any old place. Look for the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks and carve these off first. Some people tend to like nibbling on the wings so you can twist and break these off.

You should now have a carcass in front of you but don’t stop there as you can salvage plenty of other meat from the bones, and this meat will usually keep for a good 5 days in the fridge and as long as 3 months if you put it in the freezer straight away.

Once The Chicken Has Cooked

Note: You don’t have to use garlic or lemons as part of the seasoning, other herbs can be used to your required taste, such as Sage which is the ideal herb of choice to combine with roasted chicken. If you want that golden bronze crispy skin then you must remember to cover the chicken in oil, but don’t worry about going overboard here as it will give it that great texture.

Methods and Recipes for Perfect Green Beans

Cooking Green Beans: Methods and Recipes for Perfect Green Beans

Green beans are a wonderful tasting vegetable even when they are cooked on their own, as they have a fresh and crunchy taste that can complement many different meal types, from roast dinners, to salads and even with pasta based dishes.

The way we cook green beans can also vary, and each way brings out different flavours and aromas that will leave any cook eager to taste the final result.

In this article we wanted to look at not just the different ways we can cook green beans but we also want to check out some recipes that you can use them in, so when you go away after reading this you will be geared up to create something special in your kitchen.

Get your notebooks at the ready as we explore the world of the green bean.

Preparation and Cooking

Cooking Green Beans: Preparation and Cooking

A little bit of preparation is needed before you cut up a green bean and then begin cooking it. Firstly, you will want to wash the green beans under cold water to remove any dirt, or grit that may be holding onto the bean from outside.

Once you have done this you need to remove each end with a knife and then run a peeler down each side to remove the tough edging. This process is optional but you may find the edges to be slightly tougher to eat.

Boiling

Cooking Green Beans: Boiling

The main way we cook green beans is to boil them as this is the fastest way to cook them and it does bring out a lot of flavour. Talking about flavour you will want to fill a large pot up with water and then season the water with some salt and pepper.

Turn up the heat to a medium-high level and then let the water come to a boil so you can add the green beans. Now, it’s your choice to whether you want to cook them as a whole piece or whether you want to chop them up to cook, most people tend to leave them as whole.

Let the beans simmer on a low heat for around 4 minutes which will leave them in a tender but a nice crispy state, locking in all those important nutrients that are good for your body’s health. Once the 4 minutes is up drain the beans and add a bit of salt and pepper again if you desire and then serve them immediately, don’t let them go cold.

Steaming

Cooking Green Beans: Steaming

The next option is becoming more and more popular as steaming vegetables tends to leave a lot of nutrients in the vegetable itself, where boiling in water tends to lose more. If you have a steamer unit at home then you will already know how this functions and you just need to cook the green beans in the same manner as any other vegetable that you use it for.

Just set the timer to about 2 minutes for this.

As an alternative to the steamer machine you can get the same results by using a pan full of boiling water, then putting a basket over the pan (making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the basket), and then placing the green beans in the basket which will then be covered by a lid to keep in the steam.

Again, a 2 minute period should be just enough to allow the beans to go tender but still retain that crisp bite when you come to eating them.

Once cooked remove them from the heat and then season them with your favourite herbs before serving them up to your guests or eating them yourself if you are doing this as a snack or meal for one.

Microwave

Cooking Green Beans: Microwave

Microwaves and cooking never get mentioned much but there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a microwave to cook some foods in, so if you have one which most people do then put it to good use as it’s not just there to warm things up in.

Add your green beans to a microwavable bowl and then cover them with enough water so that all the beans are well submerged. Next you will need to grab some cling film and then cover the top of the bowl so that the steam is locked inside when the water starts to boil in the microwave.

Place the bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes and then let the bowl stand for a minute. Be careful when you come to unwrapping the cling film as the steam will escape quickly and you may burn yourself. Pierce the cling film first to let some steam escape and then peel back the cling film.

Finally you can repeat the season and serving process.

Cooking Kale-Recipes That Will Have You Craving More

Cooking Kale: Recipes That Will Have You Craving More

When we think of Kale we think bland and boring, but you would be surprised at the dishes that you can create with this wonderful vegetable. Not only that but Kale has so many health benefits for you that you would be ignorant if you didn’t give this veg a try. For example, did you know that kale is less than 30 calories, and gives you a full daily quota of vitamin C? It also gives twice the daily amount of Vitamin A, but a staggering seven times the amount of Vitamin K! If that’s not enough the vegetable is jam-packed full of great nutrients that will give you everything you need and more.

Perhaps the biggest issue with kale is that people just don’t know how to cook it and what to do with it, right now we want to change all that and offer you some insights into what you can cook kale with in an effort to encourage you to go out to the local green grocers and grab yourself some of this wonderful super food.

Adding it to a Soup

Cooking Kale: Adding it to a Soup

Ok, so the first recipe we wanted to highlight is soup because kale happens to be the ideal ingredient for most type of healthy soups. Now soups can be as little as 250 calories but they taste great and fill you up a treat.

All you need is some carrots, onions, black beans, kale and then some olive oil, garlic, rosemary and a vegetable broth and you have yourself a fantastic lunchtime meal.

Of course, you can swap and mix the ingredients around if you wish by adding some celery or croutons or taking the black beans out and adding lentils. That’s the marvellous thing about soups, you can add practically anything to that broth and it will taste heavenly.

Braised Kale

Cooking Kale: Braised Kale

For just a little of 400 calories you can cook a braised kale dish that consists of sausage and a creamy polenta. This will tingle the taste buds of many health freaks and will even get the general food lover interested in giving it a try. All you need is some chicken sausage that you can cut up into sizeable chunks, some quick cook polenta, smoked paprika, some black pepper and salt, along with mascarpone cheese.

These ingredients cooked together and dished up ready to serve are quite the meal to be staring down on when hunger strikes.

Adding Pasta to the Mix

Adding Pasta to the Mix

Pasta goes with anything really, there isn’t much limit to what you can do with this food type and believe it or not there quite a few pasta dishes that are out there at the moment that will have you drooling from your lips when you see them.

One of those dishes happens to be Kale and Penne pasta with grated parmesan cheese. For this you want vegetable broth at hand and then a mixture of kale, penne pasta, olive oil, red peppers, crushed garlic and some salt and pepper. You will want to cut the kale up into small pieces and scatter it over the penne pasta, and then top it with the cheese.

This makes for an ideal lunchtime snack or a dinner, and its only 300 calories!

Pork Chops

Cooking Kale: Pork Chops

As well as adding kale to dishes such as soups and pasta it works a treat when added to meat and can even be a part of your Sunday dinners. Something along the lines of roasted pork chops, boiled kale and roasted butternut squash are hard to beat when you want something tasty as a dinner.

The kale will compliment both the meaty pork chops but will also work in harmony with that roasted butternut squash. Equally if you wanted to add more vegetables to the plate or replace the butternut squash with a creamy mash potato then this will work just as well.

Roasted Peppers

Finally we come to a dish that contains more kale than other ingredients in a meal that consists of roasted peppers and olives. All you need to compliment this is a dash of balsamic vinegar across the top to add some tang. If you are feeling really adventurous you can experiment with different ingredients that go well with peppers and olives by adding some nuts or some feta cheese in a twist to the Greek salad.

Let the kale and the peppers cool down to enjoy this tasty dish cool or you can eat it as soon as it comes from the hob, the choice is yours.

This dish also happens to be one of the lowest calorie dishes we have mentioned in our recipe run down and comes in at just under 200 calories, so why not treat yourself to kale based dish and see how it suits you.

Cooking Lentils-An Easy Way to Healthy Living

Cooking Lentils: An Easy Way to Healthy Living

A lot of people have no idea how to cook lentils or the possibilities and opportunities that come with such a food. These can add that final spark of taste to your meal, and they are very cheap to buy over the counter at your local grocery store.

Firstly, there are many different types of lentils you can come across but generally the most common ones are green, brown and red.  Despite the colour difference they are still lentils and should be approached in the same way when you come to cook them, unless they are red split lentils which tend to cook much quickly than any other type of lentil.

The main benefits to eating lentils as part of your diet are that they contain a high source of protein, iron, and fiber which is a great staple for vegetarians as well.

Cooking Lentils: Preparing Them

Cooking Lentils: Preparing Them

As with anything we do when cooking preparation is a key part in the overall process, so take the time to rinse your lentils before cooking. This is mainly targeted at dried lentils that you can buy from a bulk food bin, the reason? They usually contain other elements that aren’t edible such as grit, pebbles, stones and other materials that you really don’t want to be taking a hard bit down on.

Rinsing the lentils will not only clean them up but it will give you this opportunity to pick out the bits you don’t need, but make sure you use a colander that will sieve out these small pieces but won’t lose your lentils.

Cooking Lentils: Boiling

Cooking Lentils: Boiling

The first and main cooking method for lentils is to boil them in a saucepan but be warned they do take a long time to cook unlike other food types that you tend to boil. Pour kettle heated water over the lentils that are resting in your saucepan and then bring that water to a quick boil. As soon as you see the water boiling turn the heat right down so that they are cooking in a gentle simmer, and leave them to cook for around 45 minutes stirring them around every 10 minutes.

What you will notice at the end of that 45 minute period is that the lentils will have absorbed all the water and they will now be tender rather than tough and hard.

Drop the lentils into your colander to remove any left over water and then you can season them to your required taste and add them to a salad, or used a side dish as part of a main meal.

Cooking Lentils: A Few Tips and Tricks

Cooking Lentils: A Few Tips and Tricks

As we said in the introduction to this article lentils can be used as a part of many types of dishes, and in general they are eaten through each season of the year, whether it’s a salad in the summer or a warm spicy soup for the winter.

There are however some great tips that you can use when boiling your lentils to add extra flavour, so don’t just leave them plain as when they started. If you have some garlic or onion at home then think about adding this to the water (remember that lentils absorb the water they are in so they will take all the flavour on and you will have a great tasting result because of it).

If garlic or onion isn’t your thing then think about your herb collection, adding a few pinches of different herbs can also flavour the water which will in turn flavour the lentils you are cooking. Its also worth adding some salt and pepper to your stock, even if you prefer your lentils to be cooked as plain as when they started.

Cooking Lentils: A Few Tips and Tricks

Besides, if you do cook them plain you can also dress them up on the plate before you come to eating them. By adding a splash of olive oil, some butter or some red wine vinegar on top of them you can give your lentils and nice tasty kick, so don’t be afraid to experiment with some flavours and seasonings as you will find that some really do make lentils taste amazing, even if they are a side dish that is complimenting a larger meal at your table.

Finally, don’t always wait for the water to absorb into your lentils because it will vary depending on what you are using them for. If you want them as part of a soup dish then you want the lentils to be as soft as possible, but if they are part of a salad then you might only want to cook them for half the time so they are slightly harder to bite into. Therefore just check the lentils every so often to see if they are consistent to what you need them for, don’t just rely on the water fully being absorbed.

Cooking Broccoli-One of Your 5 a Day

Cooking Broccoli: One of Your 5 a Day

Broccoli is a super food that has many health benefits, but it’s also a food that can be cooked in a  variety of different ways and included in a selection of tasty dishes and snacks. For a start broccoli is actually a great source of fiber, pantothenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, iron and niacin to just mention a few of its benefits. The vegetable also contain carotenoids which can help prevent some forms of cancer in the human body.

By now you are probably adding tons of broccoli to your online grocery list in an effort to improve your health and diet, but the best is still yet to come in the ways that you can cook this power antioxidant.

Cooking Broccoli: Eating it raw?

Cooking Broccoli: Eating it raw?

It may sound disgusting at first but there are no issues with eating broccoli raw if you can stomach the taste and texture. Obviously without cooking it you are getting all the best nutrients into your body, but the vegetable can be quite tough to eat and swallow. By cooking the super food you are adding more flavour and changing the texture so it can be enjoyed as part of a main meal or snack.

Although, if you just want something quick to eat then by all means reach for the raw broccoli and fill yourself up.

Cooking Broccoli: Preparing the Vegetable for Cooking

A freshly purchased broccoli does come in the form of a tree so there is some work to do in order to cut out the parts you don’t want to the parts you need. You will first need a sharp knife to cut through the broccoli stem horizontally and as close to the top of the florets as you can get. The closer you get the less work you will need to do as the broccoli should now fall into pieces.

There will still be florets attached to the main trunk of the vegetable so you will need to cut these up as well. You should now have a bowl full of large and small florets, all individually cut from each other.

Now take the bowl to the sink, and like most vegetables and meats you will want to give it a quick rinse under cold running water as this will rinse away any dirt or grit that may be caught in the florets. The broccoli is now ready to cook.

Cooking Broccoli: Sauté

Cooking Broccoli: Sauté

If you want to make a stir fry then this option is the best to cook your broccoli under, but you need to make sure that the broccoli is dry (you might need to skip the washing part here). Grab your pan or skillet and layer the bottom with some olive oil and place the pan on a medium to high heat.

Once the oil is hot enough add the florets and a couple of pinches of sea salt, and stir or toss the florets so they are all covered well with the oil and salt. You will want to cook them for a couple of minutes until you see a brighter green colour change and the florets becoming tender.

Cooking Broccoli: Steaming

Rather than boiling broccoli a better choice these days is to steam them so you gain all the nutrition benefits. To do this fill a big pan with water, and use a steamer basket over the top (but make sure the water doesn’t touch the basket). If you have a steamer then use this instead.

Add the broccoli to the basket once the water is simmering in the pan and then cover with a lid so the steam can cook the florets in about 5 minutes.

Again, with a steamer you have all the tools there so just set the timer to 5 minutes once the machine has been switched on to boil the water.

Cooking Broccoli: Roasting

Cooking Broccoli: Roasting

For the ultimate in taste you want to roast your broccoli as this really does bring out some fascinating flavours to the mix. You want to crank up the oven to around 425F and you need to have dry broccoli like you would during the sauté method, so if need be just miss out on the washing process so your broccoli is as dry as possible.

Spread the broccoli over some tin foil on a baking tray and then drizzle the florets with oil and toss them around the tray so they are all covered well. Add some sea salt to the mix and then let them roast for a good half an hour until you see the tips of the florets turning a golden brown or caramelized brown colour. The broccoli at this stage will be crunchy and ready to serve up to your guests as part of a dish, or if you fancy a quick snack then these moorish florets will do the trick.

Getting BBQ Tastes from Oven Cooked Methods

Cooking Ribs: Getting BBQ Tastes from Oven Cooked Methods

There is nothing more succulent and surprising on the taste buds than some juicy pork ribs, and believe it or not you can get the exact same taste and flavours by using your oven to that of using your outdoor BBQ. Let’s face it the weather can be as temperamental as it comes and a perfectly planned BBQ can often lead to desperate dashes indoors, but if you know how to cook the perfect rack of pork ribs indoors, then the party doesn’t have to stop.

There are a couple of ways you can cook ribs apart from BBQ’ing them, and the more popular ways tend to be grilling them or oven cooking them. What you will find with oven cooked ribs is a much tenderer and tastier end-product because the moisture is still very much locked into the meat. When you grill them you will find that they can be drier and not as tender, although there is nothing wrong with grilling ribs as you get a different texture and taste.

The other benefit to over cooking is that you can really marinate them with your choice of flavour, and this is where the BBQ taste comes from. Let’s show you how to oven-cook the perfect pork ribs.

Cooking Ribs: The First Steps

Cooking Ribs: The First Steps

First of all there are so many different flavours you can choose from here and it doesn’t have to be BBQ flavoured. You can go for sweet, spicy, or a mix of your own styled marinade the choice is yours.

For this example we are going for a sweet BBQ marinade.

Firstly take the ribs out of the fridge and season them on both sides with a mixture of slat and pepper, and be generous with this step. Once you have done this you can now put the ribs into a roasting dish and cover them up with foil. Preheat your oven to about 250F and once hot place the roasting dish onto the middle shelf and then let the ribs cook for about 2-2.5 hours.

Cooking Ribs: Prepare the Marinade

Cooking Ribs: Prepare the Marinade

Whilst the ribs are cooking you can now start preparing the marinade, so first things first you will need to get a saucepan, pour in some olive oil and then get that heated up.

Once hot you can chop up and onion, finely, and then drop this into the saucepan. Stir the onion around for a few minutes and then add in your mixture which will include ingredients such as ½ a cup of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and some salt and pepper.

Stir all this together until the sauce has been made, and you are happy to use it as a marinade.

Tip: Make sure that when you are cutting up your onion that you dice it up thinly to avoid any chunks from appearing in the marinade as you want the sauce to be as smooth as possible.

Cooking Ribs

By now your ribs should be finishing up so take the roasting dish out of the oven and carefully pour the BBQ sauce over the rack of ribs making sure that each rib has been covered evenly. If not, use a brush to complete this job.

Place the ribs back into the oven for a further 5 minutes until the ribs are brown in colour and you can see the sauce bubbling on the top of them. Once finished take the tray back out and leave the ribs on the counter top in order for them to cool down and for the juices to redistribute through the meat.

Cooking Ribs: What Can I Put With Them?

Cooking Ribs: What Can I Put With Them?

Here’s the great thing about ribs, you can literally serve them up with anything you like (well almost anything). If you are feeling particularly healthy you can serve the ribs with some freshly cooked green beans, broccoli and fresh potatoes.

For the perfect summer time dish you can serve your BBQ ribs with a fresh and crispy salad, some boiled rice, or create your own homemade coleslaw which really compliments the taste of the succulent ribs.

If you have your BBQ mind on then you serve them up with some chips, and some rustic crusty bread and butter to really get your appetite going, or you could simply swap the chips for potato wedges which are sure to get your guests interest.

Or you could simply eat them as they come on their own which many people enjoy to do, simply save some of the marinade to one side and put it into a dipping pot so you can dunk your ribs are you eat them. Just make sure that you have some wipes at arm’s reach because it can get pretty messy when eating ribs that have been cooked like this!

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